Its December again and time to get bombarded with all those charitable requests.
Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a new recruit to charitable giving, make sure your giving is meaningful & impactful.
If you do nothing else before writing that cheque, please follow these four essential steps:
- Make sure the charity is indeed registered with the Canada Revenue Agency- Charities Directorate. Go to http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/menu-eng.html- scroll down to where it says “Charities listings” and type in the name of the charity, if it does not come up, it is not a registered charity. Only support charities that are registered with the CRA.
- Make sure you are confident the charity is well run- not all charities are created equal. You can browse the charity’s past filing records with the CRA for the past few years to see how much revenue they bring in, how much they spend, how much is actually given to charity and how much is spent on administration & fund raising. You can also see what types of programs they run. Check out their website or go and visit them yourself if that is feasible. The more you know the better.
- Make sure the charity has some meaning for you or your family. Just because they send you Christmas cards does not make you beholden to them. Find a charity that has some meaning for you or addresses issues that you truly care about.
- Make sure the charity does indeed make a difference. You have a right to know how your money was spent and if the charity actually did what they said they were going to do. If they are not willing to let you know how your funds will be spent then find another charity who will.
Need some help finding the right charity for you? We can help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What a great announcement for Toronto Hospitals from the Slaight Family: http://bit.ly/1bzXAw0
- A new emergency department
Toronto General & Western for UHN:
- Canada’s first full body 7 Tesla MRI machine
- A new labour and delivery unit and maternity care support for high risk women
- State of the art PET MRI enabling the world’s first imaged guided brain therapy & repair
- World-first services in mental health care for youth
Each gift astonishing in and of itself but to have all 5 gifts announced together is truly extraordinary.
So what is new about this way of giving?
The Slaight family worked very closely with each hospital for almost a year to find the right fit. They wanted to make sure that their support would truly make a difference to each hospital & their patients.
The Slaight family funds will help kick start major life saving initiatives and provide state of the art facilities and equipment that has been badly needed and were top priorities for each hospital.
Each hospital will have outcomes and impacts they will need to address on an annual basis to ensure the funds are being used as intended and are indeed making a difference.
And very importantly, the process brought all 5 hospitals together resulting in many collaborations that will help save lives for years to come.
Truly, thoughtful, impactful, passionate philanthropy.
Congratulations to the Slaight Family for leading the way with this new approach to philanthropy and inspiring others to give back in their own communities.
Philanthropic.ca is honoured to have been a part of this process.
Need help with making your giving impactful? Contact us at: email@example.com
There is a great article in today’s Toronto Star by Carol Goar: http://bit.ly/13Ep14A
Three donors have banded their funds together and supported a room on the new George Brown campus on the waterfront. The twist is they are naming the room in honour of a migrant care giver, and keeping their names anonymous! What an honour to the care giver, a great incentive for students in the care giving program and a very generous gesture on behalf of the donors- true philanthropy- pass it on!
Last week I read that Peter Braid, MP, Kitchener-Waterloo has introduced a private members bill to move the Canadian tax deadline for charitable giving from December 31 to the end of February. I think this is a grand idea.
This would match the tax deadline for RRSPS and move the deadline for charitable giving from a time when many Canadians may be cash strapped over the holidays. While private members bills rarely become law, a spokesperson for Jim Flaherty has indicated that the government is reviewing the idea. Might be worth sending your MP an email if you are in favour.
This issue came up yesterday at Prime Quadrant’s conference on “Today’s Opportunities Across The Asset Classes”. A donor approached me and said she did not think it right that she and her husband were being asked to raise funds for a building that carried the name of the original donor who is since deceased. The cultural building is in need of an upgrade and she felt the original donor should not be reaping the rewards from current donors who were raising far more funds than the original gift. She makes a good point.
While philanthropists have been giving to charitable causes for hundreds of years in Canada, it is only in recent years that formal donor agreements have really come into the mainstream. In the old days a donor was approached for support, perhaps there may have been a “gentleman’s agreement” on the gift amount and possibly on the type of recognition and that was that. There may not have been anything signed aside from the cheque and it was just expected the building would hold the original donor’s name in perpetuity. Read more
I was reading an article today from the Chronicle of Philanthropy on who is the best person in an organization to ask a potential donor for support. The response from Kent Dove, a former development officer at Indiana University included a reference to the “six rights” when asking for funding. He says “Aim for the right person to ask the right donor for the right amount in the right form at the right time and for the right purpose.”
He is so right! In working with many donors, I often see situations where a donor has been approached either by the wrong person, at the wrong time, for the wrong reason or in the wrong format. This can be very frustrating for the donor as well as the charity.
Looking at this from the donor’s perspective, what can you do to minimize unwanted, unsolicited proposals that may not even fit with your philanthropic goals?
Here are “Six Rights for Donors” in order to focus philanthropic requests for your support.
It is Right to:
• Be very clear on your philanthropic giving. If you focus on one or two areas, it is easier to identify which projects best suit your interests while reducing unsolicited requests.
• Communicate your areas of interest. If you let people know your philanthropic interests it will be easier for charities to understand if their projects are in line with your goals. It can be as simple as a one line statement such as “The Smith Foundation focuses on support to at risk youth and homeless mothers”.
• Know something about the charities that have asked to meet with you. At the very least, make sure they are a qualified donee with the Canada Revenue Agency and that you have some idea of their mandate and activities.
• Ask for a written proposal before you agree to meet. Ask the charity to define in writing what it is they are proposing to do and why they need your support. This will help you determine if indeed you wish to meet with the organization.
• Make a few calls to other potential funders. See if others you know have been approached and what they know of the project or the organization if unknown to you.
• Say no to a meeting request. Do not be bullied into meeting with a group because your old friend suggested they call you. If it fits with what you wish to do philanthropically, then go right ahead, but if it is just another request for support that is far from your own interests you have a right to just say “no”.
Follow these simple steps and you will reduce the number of unwanted meetings and unsolicited requests for your support.
Need help dealing with difficult charities? We can help: firstname.lastname@example.org
As I was glued to my television set watching the latest Olympic coverage, it occurred to me that giving at its highest level could be compared to striving for an Olympic medal.
As athletes prepare and train for the performance of a lifetime, so too donors should prepare themselves for their philanthropic giving. Here are a few tips to help you soar to new philanthropic heights:
Plan your Giving Identify your interests and passions for your philanthropy. It is always better to support initiatives that you have a connection with whether it is helping cure cancer, feed hungry children or support a theatre company.
Research Your Charities: Make sure you know the organizations you are investing in- because that is what this is- an investment of your own money to help an organization achieve its charitable mission. You want to make sure the charities you support match your own philanthropic goals and that they are well run and produce results.
Be Clear with Your Gift Intent: If you wish to support a particular program or initiative of the charity, be sure to let them know that is what your gift is for. It is always best to put your intention in writing, even if it is a simple letter than accompanies your cheque. That way, all parties will be clear of your intentions.
Know the Impact: Did your gift make a difference? How do you know? Call or visit the organization or if the level of support warrants, ask them for a brief summary report on what difference your gift has made. You have a right to know how your funds were spent and what impact they have made.
Like a fine tuned athlete, philanthropic giving takes lots of practice. Keep working on these steps to ensure your philanthropic giving reaches Olympic proportions.
Need help with any of the above? Contact us at: email@example.com
My friend Mo Lidsky of Prime Quadrant sent me the attached link from The Financial Times about philanthropic advisors for donors: http://on.ft.com/IRbGv4.
It is true, more wealthy donors are seeking advice and assistance with their philanthropic giving and some are wisely checking out philanthropic advisors before engaging their services.
A philanthropic advisor is one who provides support and services to donors with their philanthropic giving. Such advisors provide a donor with the confidence that they are supporting the right charities and that their support is making the right impact. While some of us have been in business for quite some time, the concept of a philanthropic advisor is just beginning to gain ground in Canadian donor circles. (They are well known in Great Britain and the USA). Such advisors are not regulated nor is there a basic standard they must adhere to so it is very important for you to be diligent in checking out any potential philanthropic advisors.
What should you look for in a good philanthropic advisor? Read more
Imagine Canada has just launched its new Standards Program. This is a voluntary accreditation program for charities & nonprofits that demonstrate excellence in: board governance, financial accountability & transparency, ethical fund raising, staff management and volunteer involvement. Applications are assessed by a peer review panel. Organizations that receive accreditation will sign a licence of agreement that allows them to use the official trademark for 5 years.
This is great news. While it is just getting underway, it will give donors and the public confidence in charities they wish to support.
For more info, go to Imagine Canada, Standards Program: http://www.imaginecanada.ca/standards
The recent posting of confidential information on donors from McGill’s Development and Alumni Department is very unfortunate. http://bit.ly/yI8QtZ
Ardent supporters of McGill will know the University would never willingly release such information so it should not affect their future gifts to the University but it does cause one to think about the privacy of such information.
As a donor, how can you ensure your information is being managed in the most confidential manner?
Most large charitable institutions will use sophisticated database systems to manage their charitable gifts and donor information that are usually well protected. Smaller charities however, may not have such controls and may simply keep their donors’ information on a spread sheet or in a simple database. With the advent of Wiki Leaks, obviously even the most secure systems can be hacked into.
.If you are concerned about privacy of your information, you may wish to ask the charity you are donating to explain their process of managing your private information-what information do they keep about you on their system, is it protected and who has access? You should be comfortable that the charity is taking measures to keep your information confidential.
You can give anonymously, which will protect you on public listings of donors but ultimately your name and information will occur somewhere in the charity’s systems for record keeping and tax receipting purposes so even anonymous giving does not totally guarantee your privacy.
You can give via a donor advised fund or through your local community foundation. This way, the recipient charity never even receives your information. However, be aware that donor advised funds and community foundations will keep your information so it is just as important to know how they will handle your private information as they will be just as vulnerable as McGill depending on the security of their systems.
You can be very selective in the personal information you provide to charities. You may have a business address/phone/email you can use instead of your own personal information. You may be able to use a staff contact instead of your own family name or you may have a foundation associated with your giving and that could be used as the principal contact information.
If none of the above work for you, you might ask the charity to keep your information separate from their computerized lists with secure controls and with very limited access. What an old fashioned idea! While this may be more work for the charity, if they are keen to accept your donation, they may well accommodate your privacy needs in such a manner.
Giving seems to be getting more complicated than ever but it is very important to protect your privacy and make sure those receiving your gifts follow suit.
Need some help with your philanthropic giving? Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org